1 human action that is properly regarded as voluntary

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1. Human action that is properly regarded as voluntary (VOLUNTARY HUMAN ACT); EG. D is driving along and negligently hits a pedestrian, P suffer injury. They’re lying on the footpath injured, waiting for the ambulance to come, and someone comes past and steals theyre wallet containing $1000. Did you cause the loss of the wallet? Action by thief is a voluntary human action. D would argue their action is a human action regarded as voluntary and therefore a Novus, an intervening act. And therefore liable for the injuries before the theft but not after. Remain liable for things before intervening act (therefore liable for the physical injuries) but not liable for anything after (the wallet being stolen). o A deliberate informed act by another person (other than the d) can break the chain. The act is the Novus, not the injury caused by the 3 rd party’s act. Voluntary (Not pressure caused by D’s act): The person who did it had to use free choice to do it. If decision was made under subs pressure caused by wrongful act then not voluntary. Has to be a free choice. (Illustrated in: Haber v walker). Even if person means to do it, can have cases where still not voluntary. Not was it deliberate but was it voluntary! o Caterson v Commissioner for Railways : P went to train station with his son to see off a friend. Helping friend load luggage onto the train and train started moving without warning. P jumped off. D argued that p’s decision to jump off a voluntary human action and should sever the chain of causation. Voluntary human action? Instructed body to jump off but it was not truly Torts Lecture Notes 25
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voluntary, it was brought about by the pressure of the circumstances created by d’s negligence, he couldn’t leave/didn’t want to leave his little boy alone at the station. Rescuers also not considered to be acting voluntarily. D neg doing something, causing a dangerous situation for someone, either themselves or someone else and p is prompted to try rescue them but ends up being hurt. o Eg. Mother takes child to beach, not watching, child is swept out to sea. P tries to rescue the child from drowning and ends up drowning. Did mother cause death? Or was it p’s voluntary act to run out and save the baby? Used to be considered voluntary act. Now changed, no longer a Novus. Mother would be responsible. Could argue: saving is not voluntary but instinct or could say that was the very reason that the d (mother) should have been guarding the child, because they might put someone else at risk. Their doc as not to expose the rescuer to that very risk. Now therefore courts find rescuers are not a Novus. Can a voluntary human act by the plaintiff themselves break the chain? Or does it have to be a third person? Doesn’t matter who it is. It can be by anyone ( Haber v Walker) o Suicide- usually Novus (Except in Haber v Walker ) .
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